How do you encourage teachers to help one another develop professionally without jeopardizing interpersonal relationships?
Isolation has become deeply entrenched in public education. Some teachers feel uncomfortable sharing effective instructional strategies, engaging in peer observation, and allowing peers to give them feedback. Of the three main reasons for this, the first has to do with the competitive culture in most schools. Publishing test scores and using them to compare the effectiveness of teachers results in educators protecting ideas that distinguish them from their peers. Some teachers have had negative experiences with collaboration; endless unprofitable discussions about educational issues cause frustration. Finally, beginning with student teaching, many educators associate the presence of other adults in the classroom with judgment and evaluation, which can be threatening (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996). Isolation can offer a form of protection for these educators.